April 17, 2011

Two things to keep in mind as you’re reading this 2011 NFL Draft Trade Projection article:

First, I’m not going to predict any trades in the top eight. It just doesn’t happen unless Eric Mangini is involved. Recently, an NFL Draft Web site owner irresponsibly tweeted that there is an “80-percent” chance that the Broncos trade out of the No. 2 pick. More like 0.80 percent. Trades don’t happen in the top eight because A) Teams don’t want to give up a bunch of picks to trade up, and B) No owner is going to sign off on paying an unknown commodity $40 million guaranteed.

There will be more trades in the top eight once there’s a rookie salary scale, but not this year. Like most Aprils, the trades will commence between picks 9-12.

And second, don’t think, “I heard on Twitter or SportsCenter that Team X and Team Y might do a trade.” The deals that happen on Draft Day are the ones you don’t hear about. The trades that are rumored seldom come to fruition.

All of these trade projections below have never been rumored as far as I know. They’re just deals that make sense to me.

Redskins trade the No. 10 pick (1,300 points) to the Lions for Nos. 13 (1,150) and 75 (250)
Forget all the talk about the Redskins moving up. As noted above, that’s very unlikely to happen. Instead, Washington will think about moving down to recoup some of its draft picks. The team has no depth and no selections in Rounds 3-4.

If the Redskins move down to No. 13, they can draft Aldon Smith to bolster their weak pass rush.

Meanwhile, the Lions would love to land Prince Amukamara. If Dallas and San Francisco pass on the Nebraska corner, it makes sense for Detroit to move ahead of Houston, although from what I’m told, the Texans will not take Amukamara because they have “some concerns” about spending consecutive first-round choices on corners.

By the way, I know 1,150 and 250 don’t add up to 1,300. Not all deals match up perfectly on the trade value chart. The 100 missing points makes this off by 7.6 percent, which isn’t very significant.

Redskins trade the No. 10 pick (1,300 points) to the Buccaneers for Nos. 20 (850) and 51 (390)
This is another chance for Washington to move down. The Redskins have needs at almost every single position, so they can’t afford not to trade down.

At No. 20, Washington can go after a pass-rusher like Justin Houston, Akeem Ayers or Brooks Reed. A quarterback (Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder) would also be in play.

As for the Buccaneers, I know for a fact that they’d love to move up for one of the following four defensive ends: Robert Quinn, J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan and Ryan Kerrigan (not Aldon Smith). Quinn could be available at No. 10. If not, Watt and Jordan would be fine selections there.

Vikings trade the No. 12 pick (1,200 points) to the Chargers for Nos. 18 (900) and 61 (292)
Like the Redskins, the Vikings almost have to move down because they have so many needs. This trade will allow them to pick up an extra second-round pick.

At No. 18, Minnesota could still get Jake Locker. If not, the team would just take the best player available to fill one of its many holes.

The Chargers have three Day 2 selections, so they have the ammunition to move up. At No. 12, San Diego could target J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan, Aldon Smith, Tyron Smith or maybe Nick Fairley if he falls out of the top 10.

Vikings trade the No. 12 pick (1,200 points) to the Saints for Nos. 24 (740), 56 (340) and 88 (150).
This would be an ideal trade for the Vikings. They can recoup their third-rounder while picking up an extra second to fill depth. They can get a quarterback at No. 24.

Like the Chargers, the Saints have three Day 2 selections, so they can afford to move up. At No. 12, they could take a blue-chip defensive lineman. Both Cameron Jordan and J.J. Watt have the size they covet. And again, Nick Fairley could be in play if teams are scared of his character concerns.

Rams trade the No. 14 pick (1,100 points) to the Eagles for Nos. 23 (760) and 54 (360).
These next three projected trades focus on the Eagles attempting to move up. Andy Reid’s draft strategy is simple – he focuses on one guy he wants. If he can’t move up to get that guy, he trades out.

I believe Reid’s guy is Jimmy Smith. Reid doesn’t care about character concerns, so Smith’s undeniable talent has to intrigue him. The Eagles desperately need help across from Asante Samuel. The offensive line also has to be addressed, but Philadelphia brought in Howard Mudd to fix that area.

Meanwhile, the Rams will be targeting Julio Jones and Aldon Smith at No. 14. If both are off the board – I think they will be – St. Louis will have to either reach to fill some sort of need or trade down.

With the 23rd pick, the Rams might still be able to land Corey Liuget, a player popularly mocked to St. Louis. If not Liuget, then Muhammad Wilkerson, Marvin Austin, Justin Houston, Randall Cobb and Gabe Carimi would be options.

Dolphins trade the Nos. 15 (1,050 points) and 111 picks (72) to the Eagles for Nos. 23 (760) and 54 (360).
Here’s another way for the Eagles to land Jimmy Smith. They can pick up Miami’s fourth-rounder in this deal.

The Dolphins have no second-round selection, so they’ll be looking to move down. Miami can get Mark Ingram or the quarterback they want at No. 23.

Redskins trade the Nos. 10 (1,300 points) to the Eagles for Nos. 23 (760), 54 (360) and 85 (165).
This is a late add. What if the Eagles really want Prince Amukamara? They’d have to move up to No. 10. To do so would require Philadelphia to surrender its second- and third-round selections. That sounds like a lot, but the Eagles have two picks in both the fourth and fifth rounds, so they could make a big move.

Dolphins trade the No. 15 pick (1,050 points) to the Saints for Nos. 24 (740) and 56 (340).
This is another way the Dolphins can move down. Doing so is imperative, given all their holes and their lack of draft choices.

If the Saints are truly smitten with either J.J. Watt or Cameron Jordan, this is how they can jump ahead of the Patriots and Chargers.

Eagles trade the No. 23 pick (760 points) to the Jets for Nos. 30 (620) and 94 (124).
As mentioned earlier, the Eagles will look to trade down if they can’t get the player they want. Moving down to No. 30 would still allow them to obtain someone like Ben Ijalana, Brandon Harris, Aaron Williams or Ras-I Dowling.

Like Philadelphia, the Jets’ strategy is targeting a player and moving up for him. New York lacks a second-round pick, but it’ll only cost a third-rounder to move up seven slots. They could then take Phil Taylor, Muhammad Wilkerson, Justin Houston or Cameron Heyward.

Patriots trade the No. 28 pick (660 points) to the Titans for Nos. 39 (510) and 77 (205).
The Titans are getting ripped off here, but they’re desperate for a quarterback. Because of all their picks, the Patriots have the luxury of fielding the best possible offer from one of these second-round teams in search of a franchise signal-caller. Tennessee is the most desperate because its current starter is Rusty Smith.

As mentioned in my 2011 NFL Mock Draft, don’t rule out the Patriots acquiring a 2012 first-round selection from one of these squads.

Packers and Steelers trading down.
It appears as though both the Packers and Steelers will be in a position where they won’t be able to fill any sort of need with the top talent available. Considering how many teams in the second round need a quarterback, it wouldn’t surprise me if both Green Bay and Pittsburgh trade down and pick up an extra pick.

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